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Raymond J. Learsy Headshot

Artists Venture Forth Where Our President Fears to Tread

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In his State of the Union address President Bush repeated in essence many of the same points on energy independence that he had touched upon previously. Given this years' build up in anticipation of the speech ("...you will see bold letter headlines above the fold") one would have expected a major overhaul of policies addressing climate change, greenhouse gases/ carbon dioxide emissions. Policies impacting not only fossil fuel burning car and trucks but also, and more significantly, impacting smokestack industry and electric utilities whose contribution to the problem comprises as much as two thirds of total greenhouse gas emissions. What the President gave us was nothing more than a nod to the core of the issue by uttering, for the first time in his tenure, the freighted words "climate change". No CO2 cap and trade program, nor emissions control program were to be part of his agenda. We heard neither words of consequence nor action.

But there are others not so vapid. In my meanderings through the art galleries of Manhattan I came upon the work of the artist Pedro Reyes at Yvon Lambert New York. Reyes, an artist who has shown at museums in Madrid, London, Mexico, Rotterdam, Cambridge and Seattle, opened his show of sculptures with the following statement inscribed on the gallery's entrance wall:

"Pedro Reyes exhibition has a carbon footprint of 90,200 lbs of of green house gases (GHG) caused by 77,000 lbs of GHG to ship artwork from Mexico City, and 13,200 lbs of GHG for flights and lodging for the artist and his family.

These GHG emissions were offset by the methane (CH4) and Nitrous Oxide (N20) capturing facilities of Driving Green Co. with a total cost of $328.00 paid by Yvon Lambert New York. For more information please visit www.fightglobalwarming.com"

Here on a cottage industry scale is an example that puts our government to shame.

Here, in a dimension far under the radar of industrial capability and government monitoring technology. It is an example of responsible and concerned citizenry. Something each of us, in our way, could do. As though the time has arrived when we have sadly come to the realization that if we don't do it ourselves, our government is no longer capable of leading us. That governments' priority is that vested interests need be mollified, even if we pay for it with our progeny's future.

As has happened time and time again, it is the artist and poet who lead by showing us the way.